Supercar Brands Facing Stricter Emissions Regulations: The Future of McLaren’s V8 Powertrain
In the ever-evolving automotive industry, even supercar manufacturers are not exempt from the tightening emissions regulations. Although they produce fewer cars compared to mainstream automakers, these high-performance brands must also adapt to meet the increasing environmental standards. As a result, they have turned to electrification to maintain their performance capabilities while reducing emissions. Interestingly, this push towards hybridization has caused a shift in sales trends, with Ferrari’s hybrids now outselling their traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) models. McLaren, a formidable rival to Ferrari, has also embraced electrification with their P1 hybrid introduced in 2012.
Looking towards the future, McLaren is set to release the Artura in 2023. This plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) features a smaller V6 engine. However, for those seeking a pure ICE experience, McLaren offers the recently driven 750S. Nonetheless, McLaren’s chief technical officer, Charles Sanderson, suggests that the days of the V8 powertrain are numbered. The 750S might be the last of McLaren’s series production cars to offer a V8 without any electrification. However, there is still a possibility for limited-run special editions featuring eight cylinders and no electric motors in the future.
Sanderson expressed his thoughts on the matter in an interview with Australian magazine CarSales. Although he did not make a formal commitment, he believes that the 750S might be the final non-electrified series-production V8 due to global regulations surrounding internal combustion engines. Despite acknowledging a market demand for internal combustion engines and a special experience associated with them, Sanderson admitted that McLaren is exploring various powertrain options, including hybridization. While a fully electric supercar is not on the immediate horizon for McLaren, the company remains open to new technologies.
McLaren’s CEO, Michael Leiters, shared a similar sentiment regarding the readiness of electric vehicle (EV) technology for high-performance supercars. Leiters stated that he does not expect EV technology to be mature enough for “real supercars” until 2030. However, this viewpoint contrasts with the achievements of models like Rimac Nevera and Lotus Evija, which challenge the boundaries of electric performance.
In the past, McLaren steered clear of venturing into the lucrative SUV segment, fearing that it would dilute the brand’s image. However, the new management team has started considering the possibility of entering this market. Nevertheless, it will take time for McLaren to make substantial profits before pursuing an SUV. Leiters referred to this potential SUV as “shared performance,” hinting at a model with more seating capacity and additional doors beyond their traditional offerings.
As the supercar industry grapples with stricter emissions regulations, McLaren is embracing electrification while also keeping its options open. While the V8 powertrain may be on borrowed time, McLaren aims to deliver a pure driving experience, even with hybridized powertrains. Ultimately, the future of McLaren and other supercar brands will depend on striking a balance between performance, emissions reduction, and customer expectations.